Residents tried to save their belongings while rescuers pulled survivors from the ruins. That was the scenario this Friday in places like Selma, Alabama, where entire houses were collapsed by the passage of a tornado system that left at least nine dead in this state and Georgia.
Violent storms tossed trailer homes into the air, trees crashed into buildings, felled poles and trees and derailed a freight train on Thursday. The day after, the destruction could be seen with the naked eye.
Those who were able to save their lives gave thanks as they sifted through the wreckage for anything worth salvaging. “Surely God was with ussaid Tracey Wilhelm as she viewed the vandalized remains of her mobile home in Autauga County, Alabama.
She was working Thursday when a tornado ripped her mobile home off its foundation and tossed it several feet into a pile of rubble. Her husband and their five dogs hurried into a shed that was left untouched, she said. Rescuers later found them unharmed inside.
A search team also found five people uninjured but trapped in a storm shelter after a wall from an adjacent house fell on him, said Buster Barber, the Autauga County Medical Examiner. Someone inside had a phone and was constantly calling for help.
The National Meteorological Service, which was working to confirm that they were tornadoes, indicated that suspected Tornado damage in at least 14 Alabama counties and 14 Georgia counties.
Temperatures were forecast to plunge below freezing overnight in hard-hit areas of both states, where more than 30,000 homes and businesses remained without power into the evening.
The tornado that is believed to have killed at least seven people in rural Autauga County caused damage that matches that of a category EF3 tornado, which is just two degrees below the most powerful category. The tornado had winds of at least 136 miles per hour (218 kilometers per hour), the weather service said.
“The house was shaking”
Downtown Selma, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) to the southwest, also sustained heavy damage before stormy weather moved into Georgia, south of Atlanta.
James Carter’s home in Selma was damaged when the tornado made its way through the city.
“I was at home and I started to hear a little sound like a train. The closer she got she got louder. By the time she passed over the house, the whole house was shaking. My mom was lying on the bed, and I tried to put my body on top of her to protect her,” Carter stated.
At least 12 people were taken to hospitals, said Ernie Baggett, Autauga County emergency management director, as rescue workers cut downed trees looking for survivors.
About 40 homes were destroyed or severely damaged, including several mobile homes that were thrown into the air, he said.
“They weren’t just shot down,” he said. “They were thrown into the distance”.
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The search continues for survivors in Alabama and Georgia after dozens of tornadoes that left at least 9 dead
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